Dr. Stephen Braude – your memories aren’t in your brain|318|

#21
I don't think people are literally outside of their body in the classic NDE OBE, I just think their sense of 'self' is logically located according to any fields intersecting their brain
I don't see how one can get there from the NDE data. we have too many cases of consciousness with "no brain." moreover, this NDE data matches what every yogi worth his clay pot has been saying for thousands of years.
 
#22
I don't see how one can get there from the NDE data. we have too many cases of consciousness with "no brain." moreover, this NDE data matches what every yogi worth his clay pot has been saying for thousands of years.
I understand these ideas are distasteful... but we do still have a brain packed full of proteins with cavities. The organism may appear behaviorally unconscious because the relay of data to and from the brain has generally ceased due to lack of energy, but what the organism is composed of can remain viable for longer. Whilst things are still viable, the brain 'sometimes' seems able to temporarily synchronize it's networks to any compatible fields intersecting it (in the absence of it's own EM field), and can attempt to process them, just as if they were fields generated from the firing of neurons relaying data from the organisms own senses. I suspect that accounts for the integration of veridical elements recalled during the classic NDE OBE. As the brain loses the ability to synchronize it's networks due to lack of energy, the OBE should cease, because it's no longer able to synchronize with particular field data.
 
#23
While I think there are quite a few holes in Braude's critique of the memory traces, I am not arguing against the idea that memory can be stored outside of the brain, including the rest of the body, by the way. I like Braude's idea that consciousness and its processes may be the lowest denominator that can and should be analysed, just like the movement of the molecules explains the heat. But I do think that Braude leaves out one important fact. Namely, that a lot of what we call memories are in fact creations of the mind. There was an experiment conducted at some psychiatric congress in USSR in the 1970-s. While the speaker was delivering his presentation the following happened. A clown ran onto the stage chased by a big black guy. They stopped for couple of seconds, the clown screamed, the black guy shot a gun into the air and they both ran away. The whole episode lasted maximum ten seconds and happened in front of comfortably seated audience.

Right after this happened the attendees were asked to write down their version of the event. Most descriptions were seriously off: who was chasing who, how many shots were fired, the clothes of the performers etc. Many people described things that never happened: blood, someone falling after the shot etc.

There were many similar experiments since then with similar results. Let alone experiments, any policeman will tell you how unreliable are testimonies of witnesses.

All this points to the fact that human consciousness is fragmented and cartesian model is wrong. Daniel denote and Suzan Blackmore sort of way. Which, in turn, goes against the idea that consciousness can survive after physiological death. Which, of course, is the topic for another fight.
 
S

Sciborg_S_Patel

#24
While I think there are quite a few holes in Braude's critique of the memory traces.
Curious what you think these are? -> Here's the paper.

Apparently @Stephen Braude is a member of the forum so he might be able to address them.

Right after this happened the attendees were asked to write down their version of the event. Most descriptions were seriously off: who was chasing who, how many shots were fired, the clothes of the performers etc. Many people described things that never happened: blood, someone falling after the shot etc.

There were many similar experiments since then with similar results. Let alone experiments, any policeman will tell you how unreliable are testimonies of witnesses.
Didn't Braude make a note of this in the show - that taking extreme examples divorced from our actual life and trying to extrapolate them to the larger picture leads to flawed understanding?

I mean if memory was that flawed I think it would be odd to think my own life, let alone civilization, would have advanced to the degree that it has.

All this points to the fact that human consciousness is fragmented and cartesian model is wrong. Daniel denote and Suzan Blackmore sort of way. Which, in turn, goes against the idea that consciousness can survive after physiological death. Which, of course, is the topic for another fight
I don't see how this follows at all? Even if memories are flawed I don't see how this would tells us much about whether consciousness is fragmented or whether survival is possible?

Of course the Cartesian model could be wrong while survival is still possible, though I'm not even clear why faulty memory would disprove the Cartesian dualism? Couldn't you survive in spiritual worlds while continuing to have faulty memory?
 
#25
All this points to the fact that human consciousness is fragmented and cartesian model is wrong. Daniel denote and Suzan Blackmore sort of way. Which, in turn, goes against the idea that consciousness can survive after physiological death. Which, of course, is the topic for another fight.
LOL.

These experiments were a great example on the integration of information when confronted with sudden and short stimuli, but it hardly goes beyond that.

You can test how your sensory organs interpret information before "feeding" it to you by simply walking around in the twilight; sooner or later you are bound to interpret a shadow as something else. Or more simple, stand around in a windy place for a while and you will eventually start hearing unintelligible "voices". I don't think that anyone -in either camp- is really arguing in favor of the idea that sensory input = consciousness, it is merely the information processed for use.

How you extrapolate that to mean that "Blackmore and Dennett are right" is amusing, since memory as recreation is not exactly friendly to memory "storage" and hence to classic materialism.

Also, I don't think that debunking Cartesian dualism (not that I think your argument even manages to do that) really settles anything, given the wide variety of ideas that still support survival despite distancing from it.

Edit: Alex, in this paper there is a case where a patient exhibited anosognosia due to a lack of access to short-term memory (and thus was supposedly not "forming" memories), yet was able to actually access them while sleeping, establishing a dichotomy between "access" and "formation": http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/m/pubmed/8951799/

You can severely damage the structures that mediate access to them, but apparently their formation continues unhindered.
 
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#26
Strictly speaking every image of reality is a memory, and in principle there is no difference between a memory of what happened a year ago from a memory of events that took place one minute earlier. Your examples of shadows and wind support my point of view. Whenever the mind gets sensory input that does not "fit in" it replaces that with what does make sense - or gets confused and produces rubbish, just like in your example of voices in the wind.

There are plenty of experiments that demonstrate how the mind creates the picture of reality. One example - chronic back and fantom limb pain. How it happens is explained by Melzack's neuromatrix theory of pain. Many experiments demonstrate that the "external" reality is constructed in the same way.

As far as the survival of consciousness is concerned, I am not convinced. Sure, mediums, past lives regression etc. But it is similar to looking at the photos of the deceased grandparents and saying: "See, they are alive!" NDEs prove even less, and all that's seen by patients during cardiac arrests can be explained from neurophysiological point of view.

For me the idea that our egos are independent entities is too limiting and not that different from the "biological robot" concept.
 
#27
No, it's not. Materialism is the only one of these ideas that actually posits such a "magic line" as part of their metaphysical assumptions, the others generally part from the point that such limitations to "complexity" are irrelevant since it either permeates the medium (idealism, filter, etc.) or are a characteristic already present and manifesting in all levels of matter including animals/things without a nervous system or even a brain (panspychism).
My point wasn't particularly a defense of a physicalist outlook, but a specific response to Alex's point about complex biological systems interacting with the (non-material?) consciousness field. FWIW, I think an Idealist like Bernardo would also struggle with this. Although it's probably easier for you to continue to argue against what you think I'm saying ;)
right, but it's actually much worse for materialists... there's no there there in their metaphysics... so they can't even speculate about consciousness outside of the brain because it would be immaterial.
I'm not entirely sure what points are being made here. I thought your position was that consciousness outside the brain was non physical/immaterial?
 
#29
There is evidence of associations being stored in the brain as a spatial pattern, through observations of synchronous firing of spatial patterns, which is reproducible as stimuli is switched back n forth. But I find it hard not to be amazed with Yang Dan's work with cats, where they seem able to present visual stimuli to a cats eyes, then recover the stimuli directly from the cats brain using quite crude internal probes inserted into it's visual cortex. These seem to demonstrate - all stimuli being equal - that a similar pattern of neurons fire in any particular organisms brain, when the organism is presented with identical stimuli.

Remember I'm only claiming 'associations' are stored spatially in matter, as a way of moving access to information forward in time (as I detailed above). I don't think it's a major deal, the heavy lifting of our experience is done by another mechanism which I suspect allows these patterns to be coherently interfered with by other identical patterns (adding hats).

I don't think people are literally outside of their body in the classic NDE OBE, I just think their sense of 'self' is logically located according to any fields intersecting their brain, which are compatible, and allow access (as above) via their networks. That they recall these experiences suggests that a spatial pattern of activation was laid down on their networks, with the strong recalls indicating the pattern was laid down in a different way to usual, and grafted onto the network and solidified in a spatial pattern that is difficult to integrate or interfere with.
When you say that the cat experiments recover the visual stimuli on the cortex I think you are assuming what philosophers call a "resemblance theory" or "first order isomorphism theory" between objects and their neural representation (or mental representation). For example, a 1st order representation represents a blue triangle by itself being blue and a triangle. Philosophers have known for some time that such 1st order representations are problematic. For example, if you see a red cube there is nothing in the pattern of neural configurations that is red-like or cube-like. Hence, it is generally assumed that we need some more abstract, higher order isomorphism to connect the objects and events we see with neural representations. Personally, I think that all current attempts by neuroscience to reify the perceptual world as some kind of representation in the brain are badly mistaken and doomed to fail. Common sense and perception tells us our physical head is in the world and not the other way around. Check out visual scientist Stephen Lehar and his "Bubble Perception Theory" to see what happens if you try to squeeze the world into the head. Lehar actually thinks that when we look up at the sky we are actually "really" looking at the top of our own skull!! I must admit, I find this hard to swallow.
 
#30
But it's not really an argument against physicalism? The argument against traces - if Braude is correct - works against an Idealistic conception of traces as images of consciousness as well as Sheldrake's Morphic Resonance. One assumes traces - nouns that store memories - are possible, and then show how this leads to paradox, infinite regression, or some other issues that renders them impossible objects.

This leads to the question how memories might actually work ->

In Mind, Memory, & Time Carl Gunther suggests the past continues to exist as a block universe and the brain mediates memory access by connecting to events "stuck" in the block.

Stephen Robbins who Inner Space mentioned above suggests memory works as part of a holographic universe where the brain "is viewed as supporting a modulated reconstructive wave passing through a holographic matter-field. The modulation pattern is determined or driven by the invariance laws defining external events."

Seems both of these conceptions of memory might be accommodated by a non-mechanistic physicalism?

Interaction I'd agree is problematic if we're assuming a strict dualism, but not if we assume either some commonality between mind & matter (As Inner Space mentioned, Bergson's take in Matter & Memory) or a neutral-monism/panpsychism where there is only one substance (Whitehead's Occasions)**. Note that at the quantum level at least one conception of matter - substance divisible into spatio-temporal coordinates - is challenged by a variety of experimental results so the stuff that (seemingly) makes up our reality may not be matter as conceived by physicalism anyway.

On the development of subjective experience via complexity, OTOH, we're starting with non-conscious matter and asking it to produce consciousness. The simple argument against this is "something from nothing claims are a no go". The more detailed refutation against appeals to complexity is the back half of Clifton's An Empirical Case Against Materialism.

**There are likely also conceptions of Idealism that don't use traces. For example not sure if Leibniz's Monads count as memory traces? I know in the past Bernardo rejected the argument against memory traces but I'm not sure about his current conclusions?
I've always been fond of J.T. Culbertson's (The Mind of Robots) attempt to model sensory experiences - including mental images/memories - as being spread out space-time diagrams or world lines. More recently Manzotti's "Spread Mind" theory seems to suggest a similar idea: in a sense the past event is still located in the same part of space-time where you initially experienced it, rather then being located by some isolated neural configuration in the brain. In fact, the past space-time event and the present neural event are connected in space-time by a unique space-time world line that connects the two events.
 
#31
Here you over-reach, that statement doesn't correspond with the evidence.
I don't. To the contrary, it is people who claim NDEs as proof for afterlife are taking a long shot. We cannot measure consciousness and therefore cannot state when NDEs happen: before circulatory arrest, immediately after its onset, during CPR - when circulation to the brain can exist or after, when the blood flow to the brain has been restored. The trump card of NDE argument is that experiences happen during isoelectric EEG. However, recent research argues that isoelectric EEG is not necessarily the ultimate sign of a dying brain and that brain activity can exist when EEG is flat:
Human Brain Activity Patterns Beyond the Isoelectric Line of Extreme Deep Coma
 
#32
To the contrary, it is people who claim NDEs as proof for afterlife are taking a long shot. We cannot measure consciousness and therefore cannot state when NDEs happen: before circulatory arrest, immediately after its onset, during CPR - when circulation to the brain can exist or after, when the blood flow to the brain has been restored.
Have you forgotten that many NDE's contain views (usually from above) of the resuscitation process? These contain veridical elements.

There seem to be two materialistic theories of NDE's, that get swapped in and out depending on the discussion:

1) NDE's actually happen before or after the event (though some people report awakening from an NDE back into normal consciousness - so maybe we need to say before the event).

2) NDE's happen when they seem to happen, but there is some residual blood flow that keeps the brain going.

(1) Doesn't explain veridical NDE observations of the resuscitation process, while (2) doesn't seem consistent with the fact that NDE's are extraordinarily vivid and are remembered well.

Neither theory explains how it is that events are almost always viewed from the point of view of someone near the ceiling!

David
 
#35
I don't. To the contrary, it is people who claim NDEs as proof for afterlife are taking a long shot. We cannot measure consciousness and therefore cannot state when NDEs happen: before circulatory arrest, immediately after its onset, during CPR - when circulation to the brain can exist or after, when the blood flow to the brain has been restored. The trump card of NDE argument is that experiences happen during isoelectric EEG. However, recent research argues that isoelectric EEG is not necessarily the ultimate sign of a dying brain and that brain activity can exist when EEG is flat:
Human Brain Activity Patterns Beyond the Isoelectric Line of Extreme Deep Coma
On face value some people might be persuaded by such an argument, small dog. First of all, the cortex (the top of the brain) is where humans assemble their model of the world, cognition and ability to process information. If the EEG is flat you can't have any experience according to current neuroscience . That's not my opinion it's just a fact and I'm not claiming any expertise, I'm just relaying what experts say. That paper you linked to is talking about someone in coma which means that their heart is still beating, the brain stem is intact.

In cardiac arrest, there is no blood flow into the brain (instantly) and after 10-20 seconds there is ZERO electrical activity ANYWHERE in the brain, both in the cortex top) or the brain stem (bottom) . The brain stem is not functioning which is why you can push a tube down the patients throat without the gag reflex, and the pupils don't react to light etc. Cardiac arrest is not coma, it is death (dead) and therefore it is possible to eliminate brain activity as a cause of NDE (after 10-20 seconds)

So the only refuge left for materialists is to postulate that the experience occurs just in that period as the patient falls down dead, or just before. Alternatively they could move the experience to it occurring when the brain is coming back on line etc.

The problem with those two theories is that consciousness is lost instantly in cardiac arrest so there isn't time for some mechanism to start running a picture show, and even if it could, there's no one home to watch it. And when patients wake up from cardiac arrest, they are confused or sluggish with memory loss and shouldn't be able to recount what happened to them while they were dead.
 
#36
When you say that the cat experiments recover the visual stimuli on the cortex I think you are assuming what philosophers call a "resemblance theory" or "first order isomorphism theory" between objects and their neural representation (or mental representation). For example, a 1st order representation represents a blue triangle by itself being blue and a triangle. Philosophers have known for some time that such 1st order representations are problematic. For example, if you see a red cube there is nothing in the pattern of neural configurations that is red-like or cube-like. Hence, it is generally assumed that we need some more abstract, higher order isomorphism to connect the objects and events we see with neural representations. Personally, I think that all current attempts by neuroscience to reify the perceptual world as some kind of representation in the brain are badly mistaken and doomed to fail. Common sense and perception tells us our physical head is in the world and not the other way around. Check out visual scientist Stephen Lehar and his "Bubble Perception Theory" to see what happens if you try to squeeze the world into the head. Lehar actually thinks that when we look up at the sky we are actually "really" looking at the top of our own skull!! I must admit, I find this hard to swallow.
nope, that's not what I was saying... there are two mechanism's that feedback on one another... one space-time... one quantum coherent interference.

I like Lehar's indirect perception ideas as a start point, but don't necessarily agree with his representational ideas.
 
#37
Have you forgotten that many NDE's contain views (usually from above) of the resuscitation process? These contain veridical elements.

There seem to be two materialistic theories of NDE's, that get swapped in and out depending on the discussion:

1) NDE's actually happen before or after the event (though some people report awakening from an NDE back into normal consciousness - so maybe we need to say before the event).

2) NDE's happen when they seem to happen, but there is some residual blood flow that keeps the brain going.

(1) Doesn't explain veridical NDE observations of the resuscitation process, while (2) doesn't seem consistent with the fact that NDE's are extraordinarily vivid and are remembered well.

Neither theory explains how it is that events are almost always viewed from the point of view of someone near the ceiling!

David
That is the main NDE issue as far as I'm concerned David... and it's really one unexplained aspect of all odd phenomena generally, where people gain access to anomalous information that is highlighted and noticed, simply because it is in some way dislocated in space-time.
 
#38
On face value some people might be persuaded by such an argument, small dog. First of all, the cortex (the top of the brain) is where humans assemble their model of the world, cognition and ability to process information. If the EEG is flat you can't have any experience according to current neuroscience . That's not my opinion it's just a fact and I'm not claiming any expertise, I'm just relaying what experts say. That paper you linked to is talking about someone in coma which means that their heart is still beating, the brain stem is intact.

In cardiac arrest, there is no blood flow into the brain (instantly) and after 10-20 seconds there is ZERO electrical activity ANYWHERE in the brain, both in the cortex top) or the brain stem (bottom) . The brain stem is not functioning which is why you can push a tube down the patients throat without the gag reflex, and the pupils don't react to light etc. Cardiac arrest is not coma, it is death (dead) and therefore it is possible to eliminate brain activity as a cause of NDE (after 10-20 seconds)

So the only refuge left for materialists is to postulate that the experience occurs just in that period as the patient falls down dead, or just before. Alternatively they could move the experience to it occurring when the brain is coming back on line etc.

The problem with those two theories is that consciousness is lost instantly in cardiac arrest so there isn't time for some mechanism to start running a picture show, and even if it could, there's no one home to watch it. And when patients wake up from cardiac arrest, they are confused or sluggish with memory loss and shouldn't be able to recount what happened to them while they were dead.
Although I agree there is something that needs explaining here Tim...

I point out again that brains are not 'dead', because we can't measure anything using medical EEG, or, because people are behaviourally unconscious, and finally because we can observe apparently intelligent behaviour in organisms which have no nervous system or neurons to fire.
 
S

Sciborg_S_Patel

#39
Strictly speaking every image of reality is a memory, and in principle there is no difference between a memory of what happened a year ago from a memory of events that took place one minute earlier. Your examples of shadows and wind support my point of view. Whenever the mind gets sensory input that does not "fit in" it replaces that with what does make sense - or gets confused and produces rubbish, just like in your example of voices in the wind.

There are plenty of experiments that demonstrate how the mind creates the picture of reality. One example - chronic back and fantom limb pain. How it happens is explained by Melzack's neuromatrix theory of pain. Many experiments demonstrate that the "external" reality is constructed in the same way.
I think E. Flowers point shows the opposite view - memories/perceptions can be altered in extremes, but by & large the functioning of civilization itself suggests memory largely works.

In fact if memory is that faulty then science and logic would be shams, would they not?

Can you elaborate on the neuromatrix theory of pain, or give us a link. Never head of it.

As far as the survival of consciousness is concerned, I am not convinced. Sure, mediums, past lives regression etc. But it is similar to looking at the photos of the deceased grandparents and saying: "See, they are alive!" NDEs prove even less, and all that's seen by patients during cardiac arrests can be explained from neurophysiological point of view.
Can you elaborate? I don't understand what you are saying. How are the two things you mention - mediumship and reincarnation - like looking at photos?

For me the idea that our egos are independent entities is too limiting and not that different from the "biological robot" concept.
Can you elaborate? I'm not sure how the idea would be limiting, unless you mean we are actually part of some larger consciousness we dissolve into?
 
#40
Although I agree there is something that needs explaining here Tim...

I point out again that brains are not 'dead', because we can't measure anything using medical EEG, or, because people are behaviourally unconscious, and finally because we can observe apparently intelligent behaviour in organisms which have no nervous system or neurons to fire.
Well in cardiac arrest, there is no blood flow and brain cells need glucose and oxygen to function so when that runs out after 10 or so seconds you're going to have to find a reason why the "car" keeps going even when there's no petrol in it....which brings your theory in. Whilst it is novel and you've put a lot of work into it, it's just a theory Max but of course there's no harm in that. We'll never agree on this but it's okay.
 
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